Lewis Hamilton finished sixth, and George Russell eighth in the 2023 Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Following Qualifying on Friday, Lewis lined up fifth with George starting 11th for Sunday’s race, both on the medium compound tyre.
Lewis held a position in the early laps, with George gaining two places to run in P9. As both cars struggled with tyre degradation, Lewis was unfortunate to pit one lap before the Safety Car was deployed and lost out to others around him.
George took advantage of the Safety Car to pit for the hard tyre as the order was shuffled, George moving up to P6 and Lewis dropping to P10. On the restart, George struggled, however, and they switched positions once again; George ultimately landed in P8 and Lewis P6.
Despite valiant efforts to pass cars ahead, Lewis and George could not make further progress, George taking the point for fastest lap after a free late-race stop on to the soft tyre.
The timing of the Safety Car wasn’t ideal! I couldn’t get bogged down in that frustration, though. I had to keep my head down and get focused on attacking. That’s what I did, and I got right back in the race. I enjoyed those battles with the cars around me. The Ferrari of Sainz was just slightly quicker on the straight than us, even with the DRS open. I gave it everything I had to get past, though.
I’m continuously proud of my team. We didn’t have the pace that we did in Melbourne, which is not the greatest, but there is no lack of motivation in this team. We’re all super hungry, and hopefully, this is the beginning of something better in the coming races. Once I get that confidence in the car, the pace will come.
I’m a little bit disappointed with myself today. I made an excellent start and got in a decent position. I made a good move on Stroll to get past him into the pit lane, but I made a mess of the restart. I was defending Lance and almost ran into the back of Fernando (Alonso). I then ran wide and got my tyres dirty. Ultimately that’s why both Lance and Lewis got past. From there, it was line astern.
I’ll take the extra point for the fastest lap, but we only had that opportunity because we were in the wrong position. It was close pace-wise between ourselves, Ferrari and Aston Martin, and slight differences can significantly change results. Whether we finish P4 or P8, it’s far from the first, so we’ve got a lot of work to do.
Toto Wolff, Team Principal & CEO
Today was not a thriller. There was very little overtaking, even with a significant pace difference. We headed into a sub-optimum set-up direction during FP1, and by the time we realised it was too late, the car was in parc fermé conditions. It’s the same for everyone, though, under this format.
The pace in free air today looked similar between ourselves, the Ferraris and the Aston Martins. It was hard to tell who was ultimately quicker, though, because, with the difficulty of overtaking, you are stuck where you are. The Red Bulls, meanwhile, sailed away into the sunset on merit. If we can get the platform right, we can close that gap this year. It’s not about adding points of downforce but more about giving the drivers a car they have confidence in.
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
We’ll never get excited about the sixth and eighth place, but it was a day when the car could have been quicker, and neither driver had much luck during the race. Lewis had a decent opening lap; he’d started to get a bit of pressure from Alonso towards the end of the stint, so we came in to protect the position. Unfortunately, that was the lap before the Safety Car, so he lost out. A good restart helped the recovery, but he couldn’t get past Sainz.
George had a perfect opening lap, getting through some key cars early. He could take the stop under the Safety Car but then struggled on the restart and lost a couple of places. Similarly to Lewis, he couldn’t make a pass despite having a bit more pace, so our only consolation was a point for the fastest lap at the end. We haven’t got long to wait before we bring some more performance to the car, and in the meantime, we need to focus on collecting as many points as possible. We’re hoping the car will be better suited to the track in Miami and looking forward to getting back on track in just a few days.